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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  September 29, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT

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tonight on "worldfocus" -- iran says it will allow inspectors to visit its newly revealed uranium enrichment site but also says it's got no intention of renouncing its nuclear program. as the u.s. debates sending more troops to afghanistan, we've got disturbing cell phone video from that country that seems to show afghan police officers surrendering to the taliban, turning over their guns and vehicles. in the philippines anger towards the government surges as neighborhoods remain inundated with water after torrential rains. and we have a
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behind-the-scenes look at israel's small but influential movie industry, where there is no escaping reality. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- good evening. i'm martin savidge. thank you for joining us. two days before iran holds important nuclear talks with the united states and five other world powers in geneva, it had much more to say today about its newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant including why it was built inside a mountain next to a military site. as a potential showdown emerges,
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iran's vice president said that location was aimed at protecting the nuclear facility in case of an aerial attack. said that iran will set a timetable soon for u.n. nuclear inspectors to visit the plant, seen here in satellite images, but he said iran isn't bound to allow such inspections within one month, as the united states has demanded. and he defended the building of the plant and iran's nuclear program. >> translator: this plant is to show that under no circumstance will the islamic republic let its nuclear activities in various fields of technology be stopped for even one moment. >> this week's talk, as you might imagine, are topping number one on iran's television which also reported that iran's parliament warned the u.s. today against further pressure just two days away from that key meeting in geneva. as the debate over how iran
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intends to use enriched uranium continues, there is another debate. is iran building a warhead, the front section of a missile that can carry a nuclear charge? "the new york times" reports today on a disagreement between the united states and some of its key allies on whether iran is, in fact, designing a warhead. it's the american intelligence assessments that are cautious. according to the "times," american officials said that iran halted warhead design efforts in 2003, a conclusion they reached after penetrating iran's computer networks and gaining access to internal government communications. disagreeing with the americans, israeli intelligence officials say they believe that iran restarted design work in 2005 under the orders of ayatollah khamenei, the supreme leader. the israelis count they're the case is flimsy and circumstantial and that the israelis cannot document their claim. german intelligence officials take an even harder line against iran. they say the weapons work never stopped.
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now, joining us is one of the authors of that article, david sanger. mr. sanger is "the new york times" chief washington correspondent and author of "the inheritance: the world obama confronts and the challenges to american power." david, my first question, on what basis are the united states and all of these other countries making any of these assessments? >> well, they're looking at two different things, martin. the first is how well is iran doing on uranium enrichment? and there we've got a public uranium enrichment effort at natanz, that's the one that inspectors go in and out of all the time. many intelligence analysts believe if there ever is a weapon that comes out of iran, it's not coming out of natanz. it's just too heavily inspected. so they've been looking for a covert plant, and they've been looking for several years at this site at qom and now have declared that they believe the iranians are getting prepared to move in the equipment to do secret enrichment there.
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the iranians have now admitted that this was going to be an enrichment facility though they say a peaceful one. interestingly it's on an iranian revolutionary guard base. the second thing they look at is where the iranians are on weapons production. that's a much more complex issue because the u.s. assessment is that weapons design were halted in late 2003. the israelis say that it started up in 2005. the germans believe it never stopped. >> so why is there this wide disagreement? >> you know, intelligence estimates, like anything else in life, you can lay out the same set of evidence and have very different interpretations. and i think that's what's happened here. i think post-iraq, the u.s. is using very conservative interpretations of the evidence. you know, generals always fight the last war. intelligence agencies always fight the last intelligence failure. and so that's part of what's going on here. whereas, i think the germans,
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the israelis, the french, are all taking a somewhat more aggressive position, which is interesting because it's the exact reverse of what happened during iraq. >> in your article you referred to allegations that iran is trying to build a nuclear warhead. just to clarify, does that mean just a nuclear warhead on a missile, or are we talking about any type of nuclear bomb? >> you know, there are all different levels of complexity in the design world. the hardest thing to do is to design a warhead that would be able to fit atop like a shahab 3 missile. that's very small weapon. it would have to detonate at the right moment. easier is to build something that one could drop from an airplane. and then, of course, there's what's really the biggest fear. not that iran would shoot missiles at israel or europe, something where retaliation would be instant and obvious, but rather that they would slip a weapon to a terror group. and there you could do it with a
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fairly crude nuclear device. in many ways that's what worries intelligence analysts much more than the classic cold war standoff of weapons that could be delivered by missiles. >> david, there's so much more we could talk about on the subject, but time has run out. thank you very much, david sanger of "the new york times." >> thank you, martin. those talks on thursday with iran involve the u.s. and five other world powers including china. well, today in china, a top american envoy discussed the iranian and north korean nuclear programs. among other subjects, with chinese officials. details of those talks with deputy secretary of state james steinberg were not disclosed. but it is worth noting that china has a close trading relationship with iran and its support will be key in the effort to impose new sanctions against iran. that brings to us the second of a series of interviews this week in which we look at how the world might respond to iran's nuclear program and the prospect of harsher sanctions.
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tonight we look at the view from china. for that, we're joined by john delury. he's the associate director of the asia society center on u.s./china relations. welcome. >> thank you. glad to be here. >> let me ask you first, how significant is china's trade relationship with iran? and then how might that influence china's decision to go along with any tougher trade sanctions? >> well, in the grand scheme of china's economic relationships, it's not that big. but the important thing is that it is about oil. iran is china's second major source of crude oil surpassed only by saudi arabia and about on par with angola. so that's a major natural resource supplier for china. the number two consumer of crude oil. and iran has the world's second largest reserves. so there's a compatibility there. related to oil, there's a lot of infrastructural investment, whether it's mostly in the
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transportation section that china is putting money in, has over 100 companies active in iran. again, most of it related in some way to the flow of oil. but, you know, it is an important economic relationship and beneficial to both sides. >> so even though it's possible that china could suffer if there is -- these stiffer trade sanctions are put into place, is there any way that china would go against, say, the will of these five other nations? >> china's not going to be -- it doesn't want to be seen as the outlier. i doesn't want to be the only one sort of defending tehran. it wants to be right in the middle. but it does have major economic interests as does russia, russia and china form a natural kind of bloc here. both of them are going to be pushing to water down any sort of sanctions, the language. i think it depends to some extent on really how bad the evidence is against iran. and some of this the public might not know, there's a whole debate going on among intelligence agencies around the world. so to some extent it will depend
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on what china is shown and how convinced they are. so there's a measure of just how incriminating the evidence is. but a priori, they do want to -- they do not want to sign off on major sanctions. >> china has veto power within the u.n. security council. there's a possibility that it would exercise that opportunity, a veto? >> china very much does not like to exercise that veto power. >> how do you avoid that, though? >> it's going to be negotiating with the u.s., with the eu countries, probably in a position close to russia so that again you water down, you mitigate the language of any sanctions so that there's some kind of symbolic -- with some real term impact -- sanctions language but it doesn't start to affect the core economic interests. you don't cut off oil, refined oil sales, for example, to iran. china's probably selling refined oil. that would be a major impact item that china wouldn't want to see included. >> china's willingness to go ahead or along with sanctions
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against north korea, is that any indicator to where they may stand when it comes to iran? >> yeah. i mean, the two are inextricably linked. china has gone along to some extent with the buildup of a more robust sanctions regime against north korea. that gives the u.s. and its allies some room to say, look, you're already doing this on your border. you need to join us to do this on iran. at the same time they don't like sanctions. they don't think in the long term they're effective. they don't think they're effective with north korea. and they have a huge trading relationship with north korea. it's really not their strategy. they're doing this to be a good player, they're doing it to stay in the mainstream of the u.n. security council and to keep u.s./china relations on a good tack, but it's not their instinct. >> got to leave it there. john delury, thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. in afghanistan, scores of
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civilians were killed today by a roadside bomb in the southern part of that country. it happened in kandahar province, when a bus filled with passengers hit the bomb. at least 30 people were killed in that explosion including 9 women and 7 children. 39 others were wounded. as the war escalates, militants haveeen planting more and more roadside bombs intended to kill u.s., nato and afghan troops. but the bombs end up killing far more civilians. as president obama considers whether to send tens of thousands of additional troops to afghanistan, one issue is whether afghan security forces will be able, eventually, to assume more responsibility for protecting their own country. with that in mind, we were struck by a report that came to our attention today from our british partner, itn, about the apparent surrender of scores of afghan police to the taliban in recent weeks. you'll notice in alex thompson's report how readily they seem to give up. >> reporter: this video came to
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us from a highly trusted source in kabul. this is baglan province in the northeast of afghanistan. what you're watching took place in the past three weeks. there are a small number of armed taliban fighters present on this road, but they've not set up any formal roadblock as such. over a number of hours, about 70 afghan policemen came to this spot. and they came here to surrender. the video clearly shows the number of officers turning up to be disarmed by taliban fighters even though they vastly outnumber them 7-1. their ammo belts and webbing are removed as well as their weapons, all of which, of course, has been paid for by the west. and then the police officers are free to go. they don't wish to join the taliban, it appears, but they certainly don't want to fight them either. indeed, their demeanor if anything seems one of outright happiness and relief. it's not clear why these
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policemen laid down their arms so calmly to such a small band of taliban fighters. that's not all. the images also show a number of vehicles arriving and these, too, we are told, were duly handed over to the taliban fighters here. there is, of course, no way of independently verifying these images, but our soce has always been reliable. all this comes in the week that the u.s. commander said the entire fight against the taliban needs rethinking or, put bluntly, nato will lose this war. >> that report from alex thompson of itn. two american sailors were killed today in the southern philippines in a roadside bomb believed to have been planted by militants linked to al qaeda. a filipino marine was also killed. an estimated 600 u.s. counterterrorism forces were sent to the muslim south seven years ago to provide combat training to filipino troops fighting the militants. in the northern philippines flooding from a tropical storm that hit manila and the
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surrounding provinces over the weekend continues to bring misery to hundreds of thousands of people and has left almost 300 dead or missing. we want to take you there tonight to show you just what it's like and how people are coping with the high water. wayne hays of al jazeera english is in a suburb of manila. >> reporter: these people in a suburb of manila are coping the best they can. even in a crisis they can find a smile and some home comforts, but there is also anger here. they say the government isn't helping them. >> and the government doesn't help us around here. there are goods we don't have. >> reporter: the residents here say they expect this water to be around for many more weeks to come. the reason, they say, is because local authorities are refusing to open a nearby flood control system because that concern it will cause problems in a nearby suburb, a suburb which just happens to be where the
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president lives. locals here believe because president gloria aroyo wants to keep dry, they have to stay wet. but the nation's leader has now opened the gates to the presidential palace, transforming it into a makeshift rescue center to accommodate a few hundred people displaced by the floods. for most, that is too little too late. criticism of the government's slow response to the crisis is growing by the day. earlier this year, they were proudly telling the people of the philippines how they had upgraded their disaster response systems and practices. to the people here, those words mean nothing now. they've created their own systems using whatever they can get their hands on to ferry themselves and their possessions out. these are some of the lucky ones who are able to move about freely. further inside the city, there are people still trapped, still waiting for assistance. and while some are clearly suffering from a lack of income, for others, business is booming. those with makeshift boats are
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charging 100 pesos or more than $2 for about half an hour's transport. even though the waters are receding, they could be in business for a while yet. wayne hays, al jazeera, manila. that same storm, now a typhoon, swept into vietnam today with flooding and winds of up to 90 miles an hour. at least 23 people were reported killed and almost 200,000 were evacuated. the storm weakened as it approached neighboring laos, but rivers were still rising and more rain was forecast for tomorrow. blackouts were reported in some provinces and airline flights were canceled. in switzerland today, lawyers for film director roman polanski filed a petition in court to have him released from custody three days after he was arrested on an american extradition request. the case stems from his guilty plea three decades ago to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. polanski fled the united states before he was sentenced. the court will decide on the legality of the american extradition request.
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yesterday we asked what you thought of the polanski case, whether after all this time the director should be brought back to the united states for sentencing. we received many dozens of responses. the majority of them in favor of polanski being returned to the u.s. one of our viewers wrote about the then young girl in this case. "she was a child, not capable to consent or understand his perverted sex. he ran away like a thief with a young girl's innocence. jail him for the rest of his cowardly self-serving life." but another viewer said that mr. polanski should not be pursued, not be celebrity, but because he's no longer a threat to the community. "i would still recommend to not prosecute if he were an obscure pauper. the man is rehabilitated." all right. for tonight's question, we want to remind you of another story that's getting a lot of attention this week. the new coalition that will govern germany for the next four years. not only will that government of chancellor angela merkel shift a
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bit to the right with the free democrats party as its main partner, but the head of that party and the man who will become the vice chancellor is the first openly gay person to hold that position. with that in mind, we'd like to know from you, is the united states ready to elect and openly gay man or woman as the vice president or even president? you can give us your opinion by going to the "how you see it" section on our website, and that's finally tonight our "signature story." and it's something a bit different for us. we're going to spend the nex three nights looking at the intersection of popular culture and politics in several countries. and we're going to start in israel, where you might not have known that there is a robust film industry. the films are funded primarily with state grants even though the themes can be highly
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critical of the government and at odds with conventional israeli values. as "worldfocus" special correspondent martin himel shows us, there's no shortage of real life material to stimulate israeli filmmakers. >> reporter: joseph cedar is one of israel's hottest directors and writers. an observant jew, a former paratrooper, he knows the bitte. but cedar has transformed that taste into bittersweet films like "beaufort" which was nominated for an academy award. "beaufort" was an israeli military fortification in southern lebanon. in the film israeli infantry are ordered to hold the bunker while under constant missile barrages from the lebanese hezbollah
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militia. these fighters are awaiting orders to withdraw from lebanon, but casualties seem pointless. they say your movies are about mountains, retreat and dealing with it. how is that so? >> the biggest issue that israelis are dealing with is retreat. and what does that retreat mean? what are we retreating from? we're not only retreating geographically. we're retreating from a system of values that enables us to move away from physical geographical power to cultural, moral, ethnic power. >> reporter: retreat is a controversial strategy that's still hotly debated.
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israeli troops withdrew from lebanon in 2000. five years later israel unilaterally retreated from the gaza strip forcibly uprooting thousands of jewish settlers. it was very traumatic. and became a passionate topic for israeli filmmakers. they argue will such withdrawals lead to peace or war? is it moral or immoral to occupy in order to protect one's country? >> zionism is about a renewed existence of jews on a piece of land. does the future of zionism entail a jewish existence that is not going to lead to land? this is something i'm very interested. and i'm trying to find stories that investigate that idea without directly touching a political issue. >> hollywood fantasy movies we
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go to in order to like escape from something or just to have fun, to be in a fantasy world. but when you go to watch an israeli movie, you come to think, you come to really see the light. >> reporter: unlike european or american audiences, the majority of men and women here know the reality of warfare. many of them have served in combat units. ♪ that is why cedar's films are so popular. there are no heroes, no rambos, terminators, no james bond-like characters. in "beaufort," with few precious moments to rest in the bunker, the soldiers let down their guard. emotions and weakness overwhelm them. ♪ suffering is only part of the israeli reality. symbols and dreams are also an
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intrinsic facet of life in the holy land. all these motifs are deeply embedded into israeli films. the temple mount in jerusalem is one such symbol that finds its place in joseph cedar's films. revered by both jews and muslims, each claims the area as their holy site. in "time of favor" two religious jewish activists dream of the day when they'll pray where the mosel shrines stand today. it's a dream echoed by their spiritual leader and rabbi. he takes his rabbi's vision too far and tries to blow up the the shrines.
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>> i've heard that kind of rhetoric. i live in proximity to rabbis who have that kind of power on their students. i have friends who are vulnerable to that kind of influence. so it's a story about how -- how charisma can sometimes blind your moral sensibilities. >> reporter: it's not just in the movies. this tel aviv memorial marks the spot where a jewish seminary student assassinated prime minister rabin in 1995. rabin was offering palestinians land for peace. the assailant's rabbis had earlier warned that the penalty for giving up the land of the bible is death. war versus retreat and compromise. democracy versus theology. all rich topics, all hotly debated and vigorously explored in israeli cinema.
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for "worldfocus," this is martin himel in tel aviv. and that's our program for this tuesday evening. a reminder to share your opinions with us by visiting our website, that's i'm martin savidge in new york. thank you very much for joining us. we'll look for you again back here tomorrow and any time on the web. here tomorrow and any time on the web. until then, have a good night. -- captions by vitac -- major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --
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